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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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April 13, 2017 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

April 18, 2017

Happy Easter everyone. I trust the holiday has started out well and you are enjoying some very important time with family and friends. I have had a bit of a hiatus from TWIH, deciding to tie up the last two weeks into “This Week” ending April 13. On Friday, April 7, while in Regina with the Board for the SSBA Spring Assembly, I took the opportunity to travel to Newark and Detroit to watch two hockey games and a baseball game over the weekend. It was an unexpected trip planned by my brother and a welcome opportunity to enjoy New York and Detroit with my father and him. We had the unique experience of watching the final Detroit Red Wings’ hockey game played at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, an arena whose 43-year history is certainly well documented. More importantly, the time spent with my family members was truly the greatest inspiration for me. Unfortunately, the time we spend together is rare so as much as these are busy times, I was grateful for the memories we were able to create. I hope each of you has an opportunity to create your own memories this holiday season and to find some much needed time to relax and refresh.

On Sunday, April 9, Canada commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. For many, Vimy represents the beginning of our country’s identity on the global stage. It was truly a time when Canadians of all backgrounds came together and gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country and the Allied forces of World War 1. Brigadier-General Alexander Ross, who commanded the 28th (North-West) Battalion at Vimy, later said of the battle: “It was Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade. I thought then... that in those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation.” This anniversary was an opportunity for us to acknowledge and show gratitude for the sacrifices of our Canadian soldiers one century ago.

On Monday, April 3, our latest Review of School Effectiveness (ROSE) was held at Quill Lake School. I want to thank our staff, students and community members for sharing their perspectives on what makes Quill Lake School such a great place for learning. Principal, Michele Presber, her teachers and her support staff made every attempt to make everyone feel welcome and did a commendable job of demonstrating their clear focus on what is best for Quill Lake students. I want to thank William Derby School Vice Principal, Eric Anderson, Nokomis School Principal, Joe Filson and Bulyea School Principal, Keith Hassman who joined us and who will share the lessons found at Quill Lake School with their staffs. Once again, the work of Crandall Hrynkiw, Superintendent of Learning Services and his team of Jan Paproski, Coordinator of Learning Services and Jason Neville, Supervisor of Student Services put the necessary preparations in place to allow for a tremendous day at Quill Lake. 

On Tuesday, April 4, my Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) met via Skype for our regularly scheduled meeting. We had the opportunity to discuss a number of important items related to the administration of our schools, including upcoming graduation dates, Grade 9 High School Planners and the provincial budget. The province’s fiscal reality has led to challenging times for all sectors including our own education system. In preparation for meeting the impending budget challenges for Horizon, discussions are necessary to understand the processes necessary to facilitate our efficiency work. The Board will meet with members of my senior leadership team on April 26 to deliberate over plans to meet the 3 million dollar shortfall this budget has produced. I remain optimistic that we will be able to accomplish our shortfall with as little disruption as possible to the vital work in our system from our schools to central office in support of student learning. We also discussed the legislated responsibility that comes with Occupational Health and Safety (OH & S) compliance as it is an important aspect of maintaining our safe and caring schools. All work sites are required to have an OH & S committee and to conduct quarterly meetings in order to align with Saskatchewan legislation.

Following our DLT meeting, the Senior Leadership Team got together for a meeting at central office. I then travelled to Nokomis for a Facility meeting, before continuing on to Strasbourg for a meeting with Horizon Teachers’ Association President, Gerard Frison, at William Derby School. Gerard and I had an important discussion related to the current state of our sector and, while there are uncertain times that lie before us, I appreciate that our relationship with our local association remains strong. On the way to the meeting in Strasbourg, I joined a teleconference call with the priority and outcome ownership team of Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) to discuss the provincial data to be reviewed at the April 11 wall walk.

Horizon’s Board of Education held their April meeting Wednesday, April 5. Items for discussion on this month’s agenda included a review of the most recent Governance Committee meeting, which included proposed updates to the Board Policy Handbook and preliminary budget discussions. As always, the guidance and perspectives our Board members bring to the table is valuable to the direction for our system. 

Following our Board meeting, the Student Day Committee met to review the final details of Student Day, which will be held in Humboldt on April 25. Student Day is a powerful opportunity for our students to demonstrate their leadership skills and to represent the many exciting endeavors they are involved with in their schools. In recent years, we have continued to develop the program to a point where our talented students conduct the majority of the presentations. I want to thank this year’s committee who has joined me in developing the program for Student Day 2017, including Trustees, Jolene Koopman (Chairperson), Sheryl Kayseas, Jennifer Lemky and Christine Gradin as well as staff, Marni Sogge, Kim Loose and Lance Hiltz.

I was in Regina on Thursday and Friday, April 5 and 6 respectively, where I joined Horizon’s Board members for the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) Spring Assembly. On Thursday afternoon, I attended a meeting of the Public Section along with Jim Hack (Chair) and Wil Lengyel (Vice Chair). At the same time, Marilyn Flaman (Superintendent of Finance Services/CFO) joined trustees Sheryl Kayseas, Paul Crow-Buffalo, Nathan Bitternose and Albert Pinacie at Aboriginal Council. Immediately following these meetings, all trustees from across the province including Horizon’s trustees, attended a PLT presentation regarding the current state of the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP). On Thursday evening, we heard from Education Minister, the Honourable Don Morgan, who discussed the recent budget and the upcoming changes to Board governance as referenced in the Education Act. Mr. Morgan took questions from a number of trustees and I know Board members greatly appreciated our Minister’s willingness to engage in this necessary and critical dialogue. The evening wrapped up with a presentation from former University of Saskatchewan Dean of Education, Murray Scharf who shared a great deal of research-based perspective regarding the importance of elected officials in the education sector.

While I was returning home on Monday, April 10, Randy MacLEAN, Deputy Director and Superintendents Todd Gjevre and Crandall Hrynkiw attended the Wakaw School lunch sponsored by the Board of Education. Trustees Mark Fedak, Linda Mattock and Dave Holinaty were also in attendance to provide noon-hour supervision and to join the staff for lunch. Wakaw School was one of four schools who won a lunch for the 2016-17 school year during the Celebration Day festivities.

My week leading up to Good Friday was spent in Regina, which began the morning of Tuesday, April 11 with a Directors meeting. A great deal of discussion was held regarding the current budget followed by presentations Liam Choo Foo, seconded from his position as Director of Education for Chinook School Division and currently acting as the Project Manager for the Government’s strategic project teams. This was followed by presentations from the SSBA on Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) and collective bargaining. I left the discussions late in the afternoon to attend a meeting at the Ministry of Education office building with Assistant Deputy Minister, Clint Repski to discuss a recent announcement regarding local bargaining. Boards of Education have been required to discuss local agreements with their employee groups and to consider ways in which the education sector, along with all public sectors are able to find a 3.5% reduction in compensation. In attempting to address this provincial requirement, the government has made it clear that the reduction can be found through the elimination of public sector positions. I will continue to review the implications of this information with our Board in the coming weeks but I want to reiterate that Horizon will do everything it can to address all budget shortfalls with as little impact as possible to our staff who work so diligently everyday in pursuit of improving student learning outcomes.  

On Wednesday, April 12, the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) met to review the most recent results of the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) and to make any necessary revisions to the plan. Wednesday evening and Thursday, April 13, I joined members of the Human Resources Compensation and Organizational Structure committee to begin the development of a work plan for the sector that will review compensation grids and role descriptions as well as Board remuneration. The committee is comprised of five other Directors as well as trustees, Ministry of Education officials and a couple of HR superintendents. This will be critical work for the Education sector as we establish common understandings and processes for the 28 school divisions in the province related to governance and administration.

A number of our schools and communities were visited by the Holodomor mobile classroom over the past few weeks. The mobile Holodomor classroom has been an incredible resource for both students and community members to learn more, in an interactive and engaging environment, about the devastation of the Holodomor famine.

Finally, I have appreciated that our staff and students have recognized that this last week prior to the break was National Library Week. I cannot say enough about the importance of our library staff in support of our students and their literacy goals. As well, April is Autism Awareness Month and I know our schools have done a great deal of work in support of our children on the autism spectrum. I appreciate that we continue our efforts and I am providing everyone with a link to resources that schools have used to help spread awareness in our communities.

Have a great rest of your holiday, everyone. I look forward to your return and the return of our students on April 24.

- Kevin

Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205